Celebrate and learn from new cultures

Published 10:25pm Friday, November 2, 2012

I’m sad to say that Halloween has come and gone. Halloween is tied for my favorite holiday — along with Christmas and all birthdays. Ever since I was a little girl dressing up and pretending to be something or someone else, just for one night, has always been exciting.

As I grew older that love of pretending morphed into a love of experiencing new and different things like culture and language. In middle school I developed a love for the Spanish language and pursued that love through college. After a mission trip I took in high school I fell in love with traveling and experiencing different cultures.

Learning about people who are different than me, who have different lifestyles, histories and customs than I do is something I am truly passionate about, which makes journalism and I a perfect match.

With Halloween behind us, I went to a few local drug stores around town in search of sugar skulls and other décor to celebrate Día de los Muertos or “Day of the Dead,” a Mexican holiday observed Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 that’s now widely celebrated and observed in other countries. Sadly, there were none to be found. I wondered if it was because there is only a small population of people who would celebrate the holiday that coincides with the Catholic celebrations of All Saints Day and All Souls Day.

This week I met with the international director at Concordia College. His name is Alemu Ermias Katiso, and he’s from Ethiopia. He told me Concordia, not far from downtown, has 19 international students from countries including: Ethiopia, Sudan, Jamaica, Argentina, and Trinidad and Tobago, among others.

These students are here in history-rich Selma, to learn and get an education for their future. But I think that we as Selma residents could do a little learning ourselves. These students know multiple languages, they come from vastly different cultures than the one most of us were raised in and the food they enjoy probably tastes nothing like fried chicken.

What I’m saying is, we need to embrace the cultures that are all around us, learn from them and grow together.

If there is a Hispanic community in town, who celebrated Día de los Muertos, I wish I would have known about it and could have learned from them and participated in their celebrations. If there are other communities in town that want to share their culture with residents of Selma, don’t be afraid to speak up. I know that I am not alone in wanting to experience new cultures, and I’m sure that the 19 international students at Concordia are not the only international community in Selma.

The Times-Journal is a community newspaper, and everyone who lives here is a part of that community. Let’s find ways to learn from each other and share our cultural experiences.

 

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